The Pixies proved to a sold-out Orpheum Theatre on Monday night that they aren’t quite ready for the golden oldies scrap heap anytime soon.
The last time the Gen X icons hit Vancouver was three years ago when touring a practically note-for-note rendition of their biggest album, Doolittle, to an adoring mix of graying former cool kids and a new generation of fans who were likely more into the music of Barney the Dinosaur when the Pixies first called it quits back in 1993.
They probably could just as easily have decided to phone in a tour doing Surfer Rosa, Bossanova or Trompe le Monde in their entirety and still pack houses everywhere they go.
Instead, the band have a bunch of new songs for the first time in 20 years and perhaps something to prove to purists who believe the Pixies are now, well, debased without the services of their charismatic bassist Kim Deal — the breathy yin to frontman Black Francis’ yowling yang.
It was, of course, the famous friction between the two that caused the Pixies to pack it in after putting out four of the most influential albums of the late 80s and helping kick off the grunge music scene with their signature loud-quiet-loud songwriting style. (Kurt Cobain even told Rolling Stone that he wrote Smells Like Teen Spirit “basically trying to rip off the Pixies.”)
Their artistic differences were also reportedly to blame for their more recent parting of the ways after recording two EPs of new material in the past year, and bass guitar duty is now handled by Paz Lenchantin, formerly of A Perfect Circle and Zwan, herself replacing the recently departed Kim Shattuck.
Maybe the guy simply doesn’t get along well with female bassists. Certainly the slimmed-down Francis, 48, barely acknowledged the enchanting Lenchantin the entire show, but then again he also rarely interacted with lead guitarist Joey Santiago or wizardous drummer Dave Lovering either and didn’t give the crowd so much as a “Hello Vancouver.”
Not that it mattered.
The well-oiled Pixies came out guns a-blazing with Bone Machine and barely slowed down for nearly two hours. While they skipped tracks like Gigantic, Silver and the bouncy 2004 one-off Bam Thwok that all call for the real Deal, Lenchantin held her own on backing vocals and keeping the rhythm section chugging smoothly on classics like Wave of Mutliation, U-Mass, Head On, Gouge Away, Crackity Jones and the ever-catchy Here Comes Your Man, the latter of which finally got the ladies dancing in the aisles.
But the band wasn’t there to do yet another greatest hits parade like they’ve been doing since getting back together a decade ago, and new material like Indie Cindy, Snakes, the riff-heavy Blue Eyed Hexe and the online-only single Bagboy were much more warmly received by the crowd than they were by critics.
They even trotted out the new Greens and Blues for the first encore song before throwing the crowd a final bone with Where Is My Mind? (immortalized by playing while the towers came down at the end of Fight Club) and cutting Santiago loose for the frenetic Vamos to wrap things up.
© Vancouver Courier